In this second post with more Cancun highlights, there are photos of the El Rey archeological site, the new Maya museum, the Forum Mall, and the Fiesta Americana Luxury Hotel which are all located within the hotel zone. The above photo shows the remains of an ancient observatory at the El Rey site which dates back to 1200 a.d. The architectural style found here is similar to that of other structures built in the southeastern region of mexico during the time period from 1200 a.d. to 1500 a.d. San Miguelito, another archeological site in the Cancun Hotel Zone, can be found within the grounds of the new Maya museum which opened last December. Inside the museum there is a lot of information about Mayan history along with exhibits and artifacts. The archeological site at this location features an interpretative trial through Maya ruins that are surrounded by a jungle ecosystem much like the one that existed when these structures were built.
Other photos featured in this post include the Fiesta Americana Resort and the Forum Mall both found in the heart of the hotel zone. The Fiesta is a family resort that has won the presitigous 5 diamond award numerous times and is considered to be located on the finest stretch of private beach in Cancun, It also features a 40,000 square foot spa and an awesome swimming pool that spans the length of the 602 room hotel. Only a short walk from here brings us to the Forum Mall which offers a unique blend of retail shops, restaurants, and nightclubs. The anchor tenants here are not walmart or costco, however, but super clubs such as the Hard Rock Cafe and Coco Bongo which ranks as one of trip advisor’s top attractions in Cancun.
For those that are not familiar with the history of Cancun, it was just a deserted island 40 years ago that was separated from the mainland by a system of canals and consisted of nothing more than marshes, mangroves, jungles and beaches. In 1969, however, the Cancun development was officially approved and construction began sometime in 1970. The master plan originally called for a hotel zone without permanent residential areas, a residential zone for permanent residents and an international airport. Needless to say, this plan required some very complicated engineering but in the end; the development project was successful.
There are now 72 hotels located in a 17 mile stretch of beach inside the hotel zone with the Caribbean sea on one side and the Nichupte lagoon on the other. Most of these are rated 5 stars, the best rating achievable in Latin America. The first hotel to be built was the Playa Blanca which is now an exclusive adult only hotel now known as the Temptation Spa Resort. Another adult only hotel, Le Blanc Spa Resort , is now the most popular according to Trip Advisor, with Live Agua ranking second in this cateqory. Just across the street is trip advisor’s highest rated shopping mall in Cancun called La Isla. It is unique in that it features a marina at the rear of the complex where boats can be rented, as well as, a canal running through the shopping center that gives it the look and feel of Venice. Also featured in this post is a photo of Playa Del Fines which is the largest and best maintained of the public beaches on this 17 mile stretch of road which is dominated by hotels that limit public access to their beach area as much as possible.
For years the sleepy resort town of Tulum existed in a time warp with unspoiled natural beauty to complement its famous archaeological sites. However, many people fear that new development projects involving condos, hotels, shopping centers and airports are the beginning of the end for Tulum as we know it today. So, in a sense, the maya predictions may be accurate in that the old way of life in Tulum is rapidly coming to an end as a result of urban sprawl. Of course, there are ongoing efforts to preserve the small town appeal and eco-friendly environment but as of now the old Tulum is gradually fading away but not in the way some expected.
Getting back to the archaeological site, the ruins of Tulum are situated on a 12 meter high cliff overlooking the Carribbean sea and some of the worlds best beaches. In it’s heyday, from the 12th century to the 15th, the city was an important seaport and home to many of the Mayan elite including both kings and clergy. Consequently, it was surrounded by a large wall which served to protect the city from invaders and separate the elite rulers who lived here from the commoners. All together the site consists of about 60 well preserved structures dating as far back as the year 250 A.D. The most imposing and likely most important of these is the El Castillo where religious ceremones were performed in the upper temple.
In the midst of a chic residential community within the maya riveria known as Playacar, lies both Maya ruins and the Xaman-Ha Sanctuary. Playacar was once known as Xaman-Ha by the Mayan people and today the sanctuary is a reminder of what it must have been like years ago when numerous species of tropical birds populated the jungles of the yucatan peninsula. One of those species, the scarlet macaw, is now on the endangered list because their eco-system is gradually being decimated by urban sprawl. In addition, a black market parrot trade has also contributed to the dwindling population of these macaws.
This sanctuary is a natural habitat for over 60 species of tropical birds which are indigenous to the yucatan peninsula with paths and trails leading to the birds preferred nesting areas.There are aquatic birds, coastal fowl, macaws, parrots and linseed birds. Included in these groups are flamingo’s, toucans, scarlet macaws, egrets, pelicans and a variety of parrots. Although, Xaman-Ha is primarily a bird sanctuary; you will definitely cross paths with a few Iguana’s while walking around this nature park.